Registered Disability Savings Plan Action Group

The Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) Action Group is an advisory committee to government that includes prominent financial and social leaders who will work to realize government’s Accessibility commitment to build and maintain B.C.’s position as the province with the highest per capita uptake of RDSPs in Canada.

After an extensive public consultation process, a 10-year action plan was released in June 2014. This 10-year action plan was developed to make B.C. the most progressive province for people with disabilities in Canada by 2024. One of the key building blocks in the plan is Financial Security, which includes a goal for our province to have the highest savings rate for people with disabilities in Canada by 2024 through the use of financial tools such as the RDSP.

The RDSP is a long-term savings plan designed by the Government of Canada to help people with disabilities and their families save money for the future. British Columbia was the first province to support the RDSP, and ensures that money held in or paid out of an RDSP does not affect people’s income or disability assistance.

Norah Flaherty, a business consultant with Flaherty and Associates and the parent of a young adult with a developmental disability, serves as chair of the action group. Ms. Flaherty brings to this initiative exemplary leadership in disability program management.

Mandate & Scope

  • The RDSP Action Group is a network of prominent and influential leaders in B.C. appointed by the Government of British Columbia to champion the Premier’s Accessibility commitment to grow and maintain B.C.’s position as the province with the highest per capita number of RDSPs in Canada
  • This will result in increased financial security for persons with disabilities and their families in British Columbia
  • The RDSP Action Group will act as an advisory group to government by championing the RDSP in their sector and range of influence
  • The RDSP Action Group will be supported by an RDSP Working Group. The Working Group will be responsible for implementing ideas and solutions generated by the RDSP Action Group and addressing barriers and solutions for people with disabilities to increase uptake of RDSPs in B.C.
  • The result will be an opportunity for the province to demonstrate that it is the making B.C. the most progressive jurisdiction for people with disabilities in Canada through outstanding participation in the RDSP program

Action Group Members

Group Member Biographies

Norah Flaherty, business consultant (chair)

Norah Flaherty is a business consultant with expertise in disability related issues. She serves on the board of directors of Community Living BC, as well as the advisory committee of Canadian Business SenseAbility. A former lecturer at Concordia University in Montreal, Ms. Flaherty has also served on several education-related boards including that of the École Française Internationale de Vancouver. She founded the West Point Grey ball hockey team for young men with developmental disabilities, and is a member of the program committee of the Canucks Autism Network.

Ms. Flaherty holds a bachelor of education and master of science in renewable resources from McGill University, as well as a master of business administration (MBA) from Concordia University, Montreal.

Tim Ames, executive director, PLAN & Plan Institute

Tim is PLAN and Plan Institute’s executive director; he manages both the leadership teams and the various initiatives of Plan Institute. Tim enjoys actively working with the boards of both organizations and the many partnerships that are key to their success. Tim’s business experience is matched only by his intense passion for helping people discover and develop their passions to create a balanced life.

Tim has over 25 years’ experience in leadership, global business development, sales management and personal development, having worked in Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. He has been part of numerous start-ups to mature business stability and enjoys both challenging and collaborative working environments.

Wendy Baker, retired justice, BC Supreme Court

The Honourable Wendy G Baker was born in rural Saskatchewan and attended the University of Saskatchewan, graduating with degrees in commerce and law.  Following graduation she moved to Vancouver where she practiced civil and commercial litigation and administrative law with a large downtown law firm.  She was active in the profession, serving as president of the British Columbia branch of the Canadian Bar Association and as vice-chair of the British Columbia Law Foundation, and was appointed Queen's counsel in recognition of her contributions to the profession.

Her community and volunteer work included a two-year term as president of the BC Association for Community Living (now Inclusion BC) and she was honoured to receive a Citation for Citizenship from the secretary of state for Canada for her work as an advocate for persons with disabilities.

Ms. Baker was appointed to the Supreme Court of British Columbia in 1993 and retired from the court in 2016.  During her time on the bench she served as president of the Canadian Superior Courts Judges Association, as a member of the editorial board of the Canadian Bar Review, as a director of the Public Legal Education Society and was active in legal and judicial education programs.  

Neil Belanger, executive director, British Columbia Aboriginal Network on Disability Society (BCANDS)

Neil Belanger is the executive director of the British Columbia Aboriginal Network on Disability Society (BCANDS). Neil has worked in the fields of disability and health for the past 18 years, both within British Columbia and Saskatchewan. Through his and his various teams’ work within the disability sector, organizations he has served on have received various awards and recognition, most recently being the 2016 Canadian Medical Association’s Excellence in Health Promotion National Award; the 2015 March of Dimes Canada’s Judge George Ferguson National Award; the 2014 Social Planning and Research Council’s Deryk Thomson Award; the 2013 British Columbia Medical Association’s Excellence in Health Promotion Award and; the 2013 Canadian Mental Health Association BC Division’s Dr. Nancy Hall Public Policy Leadership Award.

Neil serves on a variety of local, regional and provincial disability and health-related boards and committees and is currently a member of the Minister’s Council on Employment and Accessibility; the chair of the Community Living British Columbia’s (CLBC) Aboriginal Advisory Committee; board member of Inclusion BC; member of the program committee of the Canadian Centre on Disability Studies; and, a member of the Aboriginal Infant / Supported Child Development Provincial Steering Committee.

Neil was traditionally adopted into the Lax Se el (Frog) Clan within the Gitxsan First Nation in 2007.

Craig Brigidear, vice president, financial planning, BMO Bank of Montreal

As vice president, financial planning, Craig leads a team of financial planners, with a strong focus on providing exceptional advice to their customers. Over the last 15 years, he has held various advice and leadership positions, and has a deep understanding and commitment to advice based conversations. Craig has an acute awareness of the financial realities impacting B.C. residents and the positive impact a financial plan can have for long term success. He has been acknowledged as a driving influencer of needs-based advice at both BMO Bank of Montreal and Vancity Credit Union. Craig also initiated and led BMO’s advice council for the Richmond area.

Craig is a terrific role model and his passion for providing advice to customers aligns perfectly with BMO’s commitment to our customers of We’re Here to Help.    

Craig dedicates many volunteer hours to various charitable organizations and social enterprises, including active engagement in all BMO Bank of Montreal community initiatives in Vancouver. He is a role model for environmental awareness and a strong supporter of diversity within the organization.

He received his undergraduate degree from Simon Fraser University and holds both the PFP and CFP designations.  

Jane Dyson, former executive director, Disability Alliance BC

Jane Dyson has been with Disability Alliance BC (DABC) since 1998. She has been the executive director since 2009.

Jane has been responsible for the management of many projects designed to enable people with disabilities to live with dignity and independence in their communities. These include initiatives to make the RDSP more accessible, particularly to people with disabilities living on very low incomes. In September 2016, DABC entered a four-year partnership with Plan Institute and the BC Aboriginal Network on Disability Society to provide supports to people with disabilities across B.C. to open RDSPs.

Jane has also played a leadership role in developing stakeholder partnerships to promote communication between the disability community, government and other decision-makers. The Disability Without Poverty Network/Supporting Increased Participation for people with disabilities is one example of this model. She is also responsible for organizing committees that have brought together community organizations with TransLink, ICBC and the business sector.

Jane is frequently interviewed by media on issues of importance to B.C.’s disability community. She is a member of the Minister’s Council for Employment and Accessibility, the Metro Vancouver Transit Police Chief's Community Council, and the Law Foundation of BC’s Access to Justice Committee. She is a past board member of the Nidus Personal Planning Resource Centre and Registry, and the Vancouver Foundation’s Disability Supports for Employment Advisory Committee.

Jane has a master’s degree in political science from Simon Fraser University.

In 2015 she was awarded the Order of British Columbia for community leadership.

Michael Edgson, investment & retirement planner, RBC Financial Planning

Michael has been with RBC for over 18 years in a variety of leadership roles. Currently, he provides advice and guidance as a licensed financial planner focusing on long term investment strategies for clients. Michael is the founding chair of RBC’s National Employee Resource Group for People with a Disability. Michael has been involved on several boards, including: director of finance, Canadian Paralympic Committee; director, Delta Gymnastics Society; and assistant director, Fraser South Swimming.

Michael has been recognized for his contributions to sport in Canada, including induction into: Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, Canadian Paralympic Sports Hall of Fame, Terry Fox Hall of Fame and Swim Canada’s Circle of Excellence.

Michael completed his undergraduate degree from the University of Victoria and holds his personal financial planning designation.

Brant Hasanen, financial advisor, Edward Jones Investments, past president, BC Chamber of Commerce

After owning an auto collision and towing business for eight years on Vancouver Island, Brant Hasanen spent another decade as a sales representative for major studios in the film industry before joining Edward Jones as a financial advisor in 1999.

In 1980 Brant graduated from Camosun College Business Administration and later went on to complete numerous investment industry courses, including topics such as financial planning and leadership development, from 1999-2009.

Until recently, Brant was the chair of the BC Chamber of Commerce, and in the past had also been the president of the Kamloops Chamber of Commerce, Kamloops Rotary and Kamloops First Business Network International (BNI). In 2009, Brant received the Kamloops Chamber of Commerce Presidents Award. He was also the recipient of the Governor General Silver Medal for Academic Excellence in 1980.

Brant is married with two children and six grandchildren. He loves to travel and finds enjoyment in the great outdoors.

Justina Loh, executive director, Disability Alliance BC

Justina Loh is executive director of operations at Disability Alliance BC. Disability Alliance BC is a provincial cross-disability organization that works to promote the dignity, independence, and well-being of people with disabilities in their communities. Justina and her team develop and operate programs and initiatives that advance this mission.

Justina previously served as the operations and administrative director at Disability Alliance BC. Before taking on this role, she spent the last 7 years supporting marginalized communities in Latin America, working in international development and social entrepreneurship. She has worked as a consultant for non-profit organizations and social projects, specializing in grassroots community development and bringing years of experience facilitating value exchange programs in South America for university & professional consultants. Justina holds a degree in International Development from the University of Toronto and is passionate about creating long-lasting change for vulnerable populations. She currently is a member of the Metro Vancouver Transit Police Chief's Community Council and looks forward to being more engaged in systemic advocacy in the disability sector.

Trudie Manoloudis, executive director, child & youth services, Public Guardian & Trustee of British Columbia

Trudie Manoloudis is the executive director of child and youth services at the Public Guardian and Trustee of BC (PGT). She was born and raised in the Lower Mainland of B.C. and earned her bachelor of arts (criminology) from SFU.

Entering the BC Public Service in 1995, she began her career as a financial assistance worker with the Ministry of Social Services, providing income assistance and persons with disabilities benefits services to youth aged 19 to 24 years old. Making the move to the PGT in 2002, Trudie has held various positions, including regional consultant in services to adults, business analyst and manager in child and youth services.

 Trudie has a passion for collaborating with other youth serving ministries, agencies and organizations to support young people transitioning out of government care.

Michael J. Prince, PhD, Lansdowne professor of social policy, faculty of human & social development, University of Victoria

Dr. Prince teaches courses in public policy and practice as well as activism and advocacy, and his current research interests include trends in Canadian social policy, federal-provincial relations, trauma of veterans, pension reform, Aboriginal governance and disability politics and policy issues.

An active volunteer, Dr. Prince has been a board member of a community health clinic, a legal aid society, a hospital society and hospital foundation, the BC Association for Community Living, and the social policy committee of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities. He serves on the advisory committee on children and youth with special needs, to the Representative of Children and Youth for British Columbia.

In 2007, Dr. Prince received a President’s Award from the Canadian Association for Community Living in recognition of “exceptional contribution to Canadians’ understanding of public policy that builds an inclusive and accessible Canada.” In 2011, he received the University of Victoria Community Leadership Award. In 2012, Dr. Prince was presented a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for his public services. Dr. Prince was named Academic of the Year in 2014 by the Confederation of Faculty Associations of British Columbia.

Jan Sampson, executive vice president, Chartered Professional Accountants of B.C.

Jan Sampson, FCPA, FCA, is the executive vice president, education and member engagement for the Chartered Professional Accountants of B.C. organization (CPABC). Jan has worked with CPABC and its predecessors in a variety of roles, most recently as chief operating officer of the legacy CA Institute and now in a role focused on supporting members and students. As part of her current role, Jan is a member of a national member engagement committee and chairs its communities subcommittee which, among many other initiatives, encourages volunteerism amongst members. Both provincially and in this national role, Jan supports the CPA Canada financial literacy initiatives.  In B.C., her team works with CPA Canada to recruit CPAs willing to offer financial literacy sessions and to host training sessions for them, with over 1,500 CPAs in B.C. volunteering for this worthwhile program. 

Jack Styan, vice president, strategic initiatives, Community Living BC

Jack joined Community Living BC in 2012 after working with people with disabilities and their families for 30 years. In 2011, Jack launched the RDSP Resource Centre, a social purpose venture committed to advancing financial security for Canadians with disabilities.

Previously Jack worked at Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network, where he led advocacy efforts to get the Federal Government to implement the Registered Disability Savings Plan and to get provincial governments to modify their disability assistance to encourage people to utilize the RDSP. Prior to joining PLAN, Jack was the executive director of Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion.

Jack is a former member of the Will and Estate Planning Council of Vancouver, is a former board member of Family Support Institute of BC and holds an M.S.W. from UBC.

Tamara Vrooman, president & chief executive officer, Vancity

As chief executive officer of Canada's largest community credit union, Tamara Vrooman harnesses the strength of Vancity to fulfill its vision of redefining wealth for members and communities. This vision challenges us to think differently about wealth, to return to a meaning that says you can only truly prosper as an individual if you are connected to a vibrant, healthy community that is sustainable for the long term.

Tamara considers her role a continuation of her career in public service, putting Vancity’s $17.1 billion balance sheet in service of members to create growth with community impact. Through Vancity's involvement with the Social Finance Task Force and the Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV), she sees this can be done on a national and global scale, recognizing that we play a key role in improving the quality of life for current and future generations through values-based banking.

Under Tamara's leadership, Vancity became the first carbon neutral credit union in North America, the first Canadian financial institution invited to join GABV, and the largest organization in Canada with a living-wage policy (a living wage is higher than minimum wage; it is a wage that meets the needs of daily living and provides some discretionary income). In 2011, Tamara guided Vancity to its best earnings performance in its 65-year history.